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Fine Woodworking Student Competes in Las Vegas

And the winner is...

August 5, 2015

Matthew Spallinger and Fine Woodworking instructor, Mark Melson with Matthew's work at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.  Matthew won 1st place in his category (Case Goods).

Matthew Spallinger and Fine Woodworking instructor, Mark Melson with Matthew's work at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas. Matthew won 1st place in his category (Case Goods).

Every other year the industry of Fine Woodworking showcases the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Supplies (AWFS Fair) in Las Vegas.  This three-day event took place July 22 to 25 and featured recent University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College Fine Woodworking graduate, Matthew Spallinger.  Matthew is from Bluffton, Ohio and earned an Associate’s Degree in Fine Woodworking in May.  Shortly after graduation, he received the word that he was chosen as a finalist in the Fresh Wood Student Woodworking Competition in Las Vegas.

Fine Woodworking instructor, Mark Nelson, joined Matthew on his journey to Las Vegas and is extremely happy with the results of his student’s work.  Matthew won 1st place in his category (Case Goods).  “The students and their work were top notch this year and we were proud to just get to go.  It's an honor and a privilege to receive a 1st place.  This award was the culmination of many hours of hard work (for both of us).  It's great for Matt and I'm proud of what he has accomplished,” stated Mark Nelson. 

The AWFS Fair started in 1999 with the Fresh Wood competition, and this year’s competition features six categories – Seating, Tables, Case Goods, Design for Production, Open and Musical Instruments (unique to this year) – with a section each for high school and postsecondary students. 

Participants must be enrolled fulltime in a woodworking program throughout North America or part-time and transitioning into the industry. Each student may submit two entries with schools limited to 10 total entries. Entries consist of four photos of the work and a 250-to-500-word essay detailing the work – materials and processes used, design or construction challenges faced with solutions, equipment utilized, finishing, etc.

Postsecondary Case Goods had 36 entries, with Spallinger’s “Miniature Highboy” drawers among the five selected. Finalist receive complimentary fair registration and a travel and hotel allowance for themselves and one instructor, as well as shipping for their piece.

First place awards earn $800 with $400 for second place, $500 for People’s Choice and $1,000 for Best of Show.

Judging is handled by a panel of professionals representing various sectors of the industry. Each piece is scored on a 60-point scale with 1-10 points available in six criteria:

  • Design innovation on original pieces; or quality of execution of a known style or variation
  • Materials choice (wood, wood composites, veneers and how they are used)
  • Functionality/achievement of intent (stability, comfort, and where applicable, manufacturability and marketability)
  • Quality of processes (joinery, veneering, bent lamination, upholstery)
  • Craftsmanship (construction, detail, surfacing, finish)
  • Overall aesthetics/appeal and proportion

To learn more about the Fine Woodworking program, visit the Fine Woodworking website.